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Poop Facts: Shapes, Colours, Abnormalities, and More

Updated on June 30, 2017
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I am a writer that loves learning new things by having conversations with interesting people and doing research.

Feces Happens

Feces is the medical term for the motions or discharge of the rectum. It is also known as "stool," "crap," or a word beginning with the letter S and ending with HIT. There's also the family-friendly version: "POOP"!

Poop Abnormalities

Normally, people poop brown, solid stools somewhere between three times a week to three times a day.1

However, a large number of disorders may affect bowel function and cause abnormalities of the feces, in addition to other factors like changing what you eat or changing your routine.

If the stools are unusually soft and watery, diarrhea is said to be present; if the stools are excessively hard and are passed infrequently, this is called constipation.

Among the disturbances that may cause diarrhea and constipation are infections, irritations, and other disorders of the intestines; allergic reactions; and emotional disturbances.

The most common poop abnormalities are:

  • Diarrhea (runny poop)
  • Constipation (hard poop or no poop)
  • Abnormal texture or colouring

Abnormal Colour or Textures of Bowel Movements

Texture or Color
What It Means
What You Should Do
Crumbly, Powdery, or Sandy Stools, or Stools With Strange Chunks Floating in Them
If condition has persisted for several days, it could be symptom of an underlying condition
See a doctor
Frothy or Foamy Stools
Too much fat or mucus in your stool
See a doctor if condition persists for several days
Greasy Stools
Your body could be having a problem absorbing fat
See a doctor if condition persists for more than several days
Presence of "Curds" in Stool
Curds indicate undigested food (not casein)
Consider seeing a doctor if condition persists, but is not a cause for alarm without any other symptoms
Black Stool (normal texture)
Some medications like bismuth (in Pepto-Bismol) can turn stool black; dark foods can also cause black stool
No action needed unless condition persists
Black Stool (tarry or sticky texture)
Tarry, black stool indicates bleeding in the GI tract
See a doctor immediately
Green Stool
Can be caused by eating green foods, foods with purple dye, or certain medications
No action needed unless condition persists
Red or Bloody Stool
Beets and other red foods can cause your stool to be bright red, but so can bleeding
See a doctor to rule out any serious causes
Yellow Stool
Undigested fat can cause your stool to appear yellow
See a doctor if condition persists
Light or Clay-Colored Stool
Some medications for diarrhea can cause pale-colored poop, but it could also indicate a lack of bile
See a doctor if condition persists
Pus
You have an infection somewhere in your GI tract
See a doctor

Abnormal Colour or Texture of Bowel Movements

Feces is normally dark brown in colour due to a pigment it absorbs from the gall bladder's bile as waste moves through the system.2 However, stool shape, color, and size can vary frequently due to a number of factors, including what you eat, changes in your routine, or hormonal changes. If you notice a change in your stool that persists for more than a couple of days, you should examine it closer to see if it's something you should worry about.

Here are some changes in colors and textures of stool you might notice and what they might mean.

Note: If you're having dark, tarry stools (also called melena), you should see a doctor immediately as this could indicate bleeding in your GI tract.

Crumbly, Powdery, or Sandy Stools, or Stools With Strange Chunks Floating in Them

As mentioned for the other conditions — textures for stool changes frequently. You should be concerned only if your stool does not go back to normal after a few days, or if the changes were accompanied with other symptoms.

If you've been experiencing the above symptoms for a number of days, you should see a doctor since it could be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as Crohn's disease, or a condition causing some kind of malabsorption of nutrients.

If the chunks are also associated with diarrhea, it's possible that they are bits of undigested food.

Frothy or Foamy Stools

These kinds of stools can result if there's too much fat or mucus in your stool.3 Sometimes they just happen because of something you ate, but if they're an on-going problem, they may indicate that you have an underlying condition like celiac disease, IBS, or pancreatitis. See your doctor if you've been having foamy stools for more than a few days.

Greasy

If you're having greasy, bad-smelling bowel movements that are on the looser side (fatty diarrhea or steatorrhea), your body could be having a problem absorbing fat.4

If this is an on-going problem, see your doctor. You may have an underlying condition that needs treating.

Presence of "Curds" in Stool

Curds, as the whitish masses sometimes seen in the yellow or greenish matrix of a runny stool are called, generally consist of fats or mucus. They indicate that the person is unable to digest satisfactorily, either because the food is too rich or because it is hard to digest.

Undigested fat appears as small, tufted irregular yellowish masses, and mucus often takes the form of balls.

According to Bibek Ray, who has a Ph.D. in food science, the presence of casein curds in poop is not possible due to the nature of the digestive system. Though people, especially in Internet forums, seem to subscribe to this belief, it is likely that the white curds they are noticing in their feces are from undigested plant matter or something else they've eaten.

Black

Your stool might be black if you've eaten something very dark (like blueberries), are taking a medication that turns your stool black (like Pepto-Bismol), or are taking iron tablets.

Otherwise, if you have very dark or black bowel movements that are tarry or sticky (a condition known as melena), it may be a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract, possibly from a stomach ulcer, and you should get medical advice immediately.2

Green

Eating green foods can lead to green poop. Even foods with artificial purple coloring can cause your poop to turn green. It can also occur due to the presence of bile — you might see this if you have green-ish diarrhea since there wasn't time for the bile to change pigmentation.

Certain drugs also alter the color of feces. For example, bismuth (found in Pepto-Bismol) can cause dirty green or blackish bowel movements.

Red or Bloody

If you notice red in your bowel movements, it's most likely because of something that you've been eating. Beets, foods with red dye in them, and red drinks can all change the color of your stool.2

However, if your stool has streaks of bright red and it's not because of food, you may have a problem such as a tear in the anus or hemorrhoids. Bright red blood usually comes from bleeding in the lower part of your digestive tract.

In most cases, it's nothing serious. However, because anal bleeding can also be the result of life-threatening problems, it's safer to go to the doctor if you have bright red blood in your stools.2

Maroon stool indicates that there is bleeding somewhere in your GI tract. This is an emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately.5

Yellow

Yellow stool could indicate the presence of undigested fat in the stool and is possibly the result of an underlying condition that is preventing your body from absorbing fat like celiac disease.

If you've been having greasy, yellow stools for more than a few days, you should consult a doctor.

Light or Clay-Colored

Sometimes, medications for diarrhea can cause pale-colored poop. Barium can also cause it — this is the chalky drink you take before getting X-rays of the upper part of your digestive tract.2

However, these bowel movements can also indicate that your digestive system is not absorbing the food properly, or that you have a gall bladder or liver disease such as hepatitis. The fact the poop is not brown indicates that possibly you do not have enough bile in your system for some reason, since bile is what turns poop brown.

If you've been having pale stools for several days, it's time to call a doctor.

Pus

In certain infections of the colon (the last segment of the large intestine) there may be pus in the feces, and in other colon inflammations, large amounts of mucus may be passed with the feces.

If you're passing pus in your stools, this is an indication of a serious problem and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Stool Colours in Infants

Baby poop changes colour and consistency fairly quickly as they grow. A newborn infant's stool will be black and tarry for the first few days and have a consistency like motor oil.6

A breastfed baby's poop will normally be anywhere from mustard yellow to green to brown. It may have a seedy or pasty texture and could even be runny enough to constitute diarrhea. The stools will have a sweet smell, as opposed to normal stool odor.

A formula fed baby's poop is yellow or brown and has the consistency of peanut butter. These babies' stools are generally larger than those of a breastfed baby.

Sometimes you'll see chunks of food in your baby's stool — this is normal because food passes through their digestive tracts very quickly. Because of how quickly they pass, the colours and textures of a baby's stool can sometimes be surprising.

Poop that is overly runny (diarrhea) and is green, yellow, or brown, is a cause for concern. It could be the result of an infection or an allergy and should be treated immediately in order to prevent dehydration.

Hard poop like pebbles indicates constipation — this can happen when babies are being introduced to solid food for the first time.

The presence of mucus or red blood in a baby's poop should be brought to the attention of a physician, as well as if your baby's poop is grey or pale.

The Bristol Stool Scale: Classifying Your Poop

The Bristol Stool Scale or Bristol Stool Chart is a medical aid that classifies the form of human feces into seven groups. It was developed by Heaton and Lewis at the University of Bristol and was first published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997. The form of the stool depends on the amount of time it spends in the colon.

The seven types of stool are:

  • Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
  • Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
  • Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
  • Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
  • Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
  • Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
  • Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces (entirely liquid)

Types 1 and 2 indicate constipation, with 3 and 4 being the "ideal stools," especially the latter, as they are the easiest to pass. Types 5 through 7 tend further towards diarrhea.

Source

Diarrhea (Runny Poop)

Diarrhea consists of the excessive discharge of watery feces from the bowel and is a symptom of many diseases. As with constipation, the causes of diarrhea are many, ranging from stress or a hangover to serious illnesses or poisoning. If diarrhea continues for several days without improving, it is possible to become dangerously dehydrated.

Although diarrhea is usually not a major cause for concern, in some cases it could be a sign of something serious (especially if it persists).

Diarrhea is fun for no one.
Diarrhea is fun for no one. | Source

Constipation (No Poop)

Normally feces are only present in the rectum for a few minutes before defecation, since their arrival there usually demands an immediate call of nature. Constipation is a delay in the evacuation of feces. Definitions of constipation vary, but in general, constipation is when your bowel movements are too hard, too small, hard to get out, or happen less than 3 times in a week.7

Cause of Constipation

Constipation may be due to

  1. Habits: e.g., neglect of the call of nature, sedentary life, or senility;
  2. Weakness of muscles as a result of obesity, repeated pregnancies, a ruptured perineum, or continual use of laxatives
  3. Poor diet insufficient in fiber or water
  4. Side effect of various medications
  5. Some diseases of the digestive system

Symptoms of Constipation

Your stools are hard and insufficient, and often accompanied by mucus. Fecal masses can sometimes be felt in the abdomen, and there may be pain from irregular intestinal contractions.

Treatment of Constipation

Treatment of constipation generally depends on the underlying condition causing it.UptoDate

Possible treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, drinking more water, and eating a diet that is higher in fiber.
  • Developing a habit of using the bathroom at a certain time of day (usually in the morning)
  • Treating any underlying GI diseases
  • Using laxatives or other medications

Where Poop Comes From

After you eat something, the food will pass through your esophagus, your stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine, and finally — out the door! The small intestine does all of the digesting and only passes on the undigested food to the large intestine, where it then passes to the rectum before you poop it out.8 All of this happens through a process called peristalsis, movement of the organ walls.8

What you poop out is the waste material discharged by the bowels after the digestion of food. It has food residue as well as bile, mucus and large quantities of bacteria that have helped in the process of digestion.

The Digestive Process

Let's say you eat a ham sandwich. This ham sandwich's digestive journey begins in the mouth with chewing and the production of saliva which starts breaking down starches in your food (like the wheat in that bread).

From there, it will pass through the esophagus and into the stomach, where stomach acid begins to work on the proteins. In the stomach, your sandwich is now turned into a uniform liquid with the help of the stomach acids. This liquid is called chyme and it is passed into the small intestine.8

In the small intestine, digestive juices from the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver continue to work on your sandwich, further dissolving the fat, carbohydrates, and proteins in it, absorbing the nutrients, and then passing them along to the rest of the body.

After most things that can be used by your body have been absorbed by the small intestine, digestion continues in the large intestine, the undigestible bits then pass into your large intestine, where they are passed through your colon and then out of your body through your anus by way of your rectum.

Getting comfortable on the toilet.
Getting comfortable on the toilet. | Source

What Causes Defecation?

Peristalsis — the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the digestive system — eventually pushes enough fecal material into the rectum to distend the rectal wall, stimulating pressure receptors to inform the brain that defecation is necessary.9

Evacuation (pooping) is performed as a conscious action by contracting the abdominal muscles, tightening the diaphragm and holding the breath. The anal sphincter, a tight ring of muscle around the anus, opens under the pressure and the feces pass out. In the first year or two of life, the anal sphincter opens unconsciously in an involuntary nervous reflex.10 In later infancy, the brain brings the action under conscious control.

Some bathroom reading.
Some bathroom reading. | Source

Types of Poop: A Little Bit of Humor

Here's a funny list of poop names that I found somewhere online. Do you have any more to add?

  • Ghost Poop: That's the kind where you feel the poop come out, have poop on the toilet paper, but there is no poop in the toilet.
  • Clean Poop: The kind where you poop it out, see it in the toilet, but there is nothing on the toilet paper.
  • Second Wave Poop: It happens when you're done pooping. You've pulled your pants up to your knees, and you realise that you have to poop some more.
  • Brain Hemorrhage Poop: Also known as "Pop a vein in your forehead " poop. The kind where you strain so much to get it out that you practically have a stroke.
  • Sweetcorn Poop: Self explanatory
  • Log Poop: The kind of poop that is so huge that you're afraid to flush the toilet without breaking it into a few pieces with your toilet brush.
  • Drinker's Poop: That is the kind of poop that you have the morning after a long night of drinking - its most noticeable trait is the skid marks left on the bottom of the toilet.
  • "Gee I wish I could poop" poop: It's the kind of poop where you want to poop, but all you do is sit on the toilet with cramps and fart a few times.
  • Spinal Tap Poop: That's the one where it hurts so much coming out that you swear it was leaving you sideways.
  • Wet Cheeks Poop: Also known as "The Power Dump": That's the kind that comes out of your ass so fast that your butt cheeks get splashed with the toilet water.
  • Liquid Poop: The kind where yellowish-brown liquid shoots out of your butt, splashes all over the inside of the toilet bowl and, at the same time, chronically burns your tender poop-chute.
  • The Crowd Pleaser: This poop is so intriguing in size and/or appearance that you have to show it to someone.
  • Mood Enhancer: This poop occurs after a lengthy period of constipation, allowing you to be your old self again.
  • The Ritual: This poop occurs at the same time time each day and is accomplished with the aid of a newspaper
  • Guinness Book of Records Poop: A poop so noteworthy it should be recorded for future generations
  • The Aftershock Poop: This poop has an odor so powerful that anyone entering the vicinity within the next 7 hours is affected.
  • The Honeymoon's Over Poop: This is any poop created in the presence of another person.
  • Groaner: A poop so huge it cannot exit without vocal assistance
  • Floater: Characterized by its floatability, this poop has been known to resurface after many flushes
  • Ranger: A poop which refuses to let go. It is usually necessary to engage in a rocking or bouncing motion, but quite often the only solution is to push it away with a small piece of toilet paper.
  • Phantom Poop: This appears in the toilet mysteriously and no one will admit to putting it there.
  • Peek-a-boo-poop: Now you see it, now you don't. This poop is playing games with you. Requires patience and muscle control.
  • The Bombshell: A poop that comes as a complete surprise at a time that is either inappropriate to poop (i.e. during lovemaking or a root canal) or you are nowhere near pooping facilities.
  • Snake Charmer: A long skinny poop which has managed to coil into a frightening position. Usually harmless
  • Olympic Poop: This poop occurs exactly one hour prior to the start of any competitive event in which you are entered and bears a close resemblance to the Drinker's poop.

Sources Used

  1. Medically reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian. "What Is Constipation." October 6, 2016. WebMD. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  2. Medically reviewed by by William Blahd, MD. "Poop Colors and What They Mean." February 24, 2017. WebMD. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  3. Morris, Susan York. Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, MD. "Why Is My Poop Foamy?" April 10, 2017. Healthline. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  4. Bonis, Peter A. L. MD and J Thomas Lamont, MD. "Approach to the adult with chronic diarrhea in resource-rich settings." June 5, 2017. UpToDate. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  5. Cunha, John P., DO, FACOEP. "Stool Color Changes." May 23, 2016. eMedicineHealth. Accessed June 30, 2017.
  6. "12 Types of Poop and What They Mean." August 15, 2014. Blank Children's Hospital. Accessed June 30, 2017.
  7. Wald, Arnold, MD. Patient education: Constipation in adults (Beyond the Basics). July 22, 2013. UpToDate. Accessed June 30, 2017.
  8. "The Digestive System and How It Works." September 2013. NIDDK. Accessed June 30, 2017.
  9. "Digestive System." August 27, 2013. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed June 30, 2017.
  10. "Toilet Training." (n.d.) Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed June 30, 2017.

Are You Happy With Your Poop?

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    • profile image

      Captainanchor 2 weeks ago

      When I was a kid I remember Dad referring to it as 'dropping anchor'. For example, if he wanted to know you were regular he'd simply ask you how many times you dropped anchor that day. Occasionally he'd ask you to describe it or want to take a look at it from a distance if it looked funky. Question is, when doesn't it? Heck it's poop. I recall he impressed on us that squatting was the most naturally effective way to void.

      Claimed he used to do it regularly. Turned out he was right as always, lol! Once we went to boarding school it became a regular feature every 3 months to give you (ingestive) Epsom salts or even (ingestible) Castor oil. Both early in the morning followed by a starvation diet with just hydration for 24 hrs. The Esalt was very difficult to get down the hatch but the matron administrating it always succeeded, yukh (yuk)!

      It induced a strong gag reflex but if you did she promised you another dose soon after. I'm here to tell you this treatment r e a l l y cleaned you out completely with nary a f..t to spare. Poop and gas were non-existent and it left you with a huge appetite like never before. I have a voracious appetite to begin with and proud to say always regular. Oh, let me also say they fed you very well for having gone through the 24 hr. Starvation diet. The long term impact it had for the rest of my adult years seems very positive and I've no issues now.

      So one way or another (oral or enema) take your laxatives regularly so you drop anchor effortlessly. Oh and try squatting as often as possible when you go except when diarrhea is present or rampant, for obvious reasons of overspray! Check out 'Squatty Potty' or a simple U- shaped or C-shaped stool about 12 to 18 inches high, just so it straddles

      the neck of said toilet. That'll put you in the ideal position to let gravity help you as you align your rectum naturally. Once you get this practice down and become proficient at it you may never need laxatives again. Happy poopin' and Cheers!

    • profile image

      So not putting my name lol 3 months ago

      Don't forget prairie dogging! It's when the poop sticks its head out just a little and then pops back in. It can do this multiple times until you can finally let it jump out of the hole!

    • profile image

      you dont know me 3 months ago

      don't forget the land slide where the poop comes out in many small to big chunks and splashes your butt multiple times

    • profile image

      9 months ago

      I have been passing a white square floating feces with loose bowels/diarrhea. The square is slightly less than a half inch square (not a perfect square) with a light colored carmel coating. The inside is white w/small chucks packed together, tough in texture and crumbled when smashed between my fingers. Did not disolve in water. 01/2017

    • profile image

      Sarah 2 years ago

      My daughter has been pooping and it looks like the skin of boudin and is very powder looking and sits at bottom of toilet and around the bowl of toilet what could this mean

    • profile image

      tiffany012089 2 years ago

      My husband had poop that looked like eggs and it was full of blood and when he flushed they popped open. He also has been feeling like he has diarrhea but it was all blood. He does take naproxen on a regular basis for his neuropothy pain cause he is out of the other med for that and we dony have theoney for it. Could that be whats casuing this with him? Cause i am very concerned? And is there something else he can take instead that isnt causing that if that is?

    • drummingguy profile image
      Author

      drummingguy 3 years ago

      What do you have against porridge?

    • profile image

      eInfoReader 3 years ago

      Suggestions for breakfast……. "porridge"? Porridge?! The 1800s called, and they would like their vernacular back.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just had to read it to the end, very amusing and a nice way to describe without being crude.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great info...

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 4 years ago

      Loved laughing and learning all about poop today!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Great lens. You made me laugh with the types of poop because my older cousin showed me that when I was about 10 and I remember laughing til I cried then. For constipation, my aunt was advised by her doctor to give her babies the BRATT diet--Bananas, Raisins, Apples, Tea and Toast. Worked every time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Idk what's wrong with me. I'm 3 months pregnant And rarely poop. Now all of a sudden(not the first time though) I wake up feeling like I can barely make it to the bathroom, and all that comes out is tannish/yellow/red partical that look very squishy/fatty with farting and lots of greasy stuff when I wipe. no idea what it is, please help!

    • prikazen profile image

      prikazen 5 years ago

      Interesting :)Like it.

    • profile image

      DMVAgent 5 years ago

      jezz.. that was interesting topic, like it for its very unique topic.. this will open door to people, keep poping! HAHAHA... cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow I just now learned the correct way to poop via this page. I had no idea you were supposed to contract your abdomen and hold your breath. I've always been a "pusher" because of bad diet, but I'm now trying to get my fiber and water and hopefully have "normal" movement. I will dance through the streets when all works perfectly.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Interesting lens. I'm a once a dayer - morning. Only maybe 3 times in 46 years have I had a problem. My husband on the other hand - is always constipated. Our daily conversation? "Hi hon, how was your day? Did you poop?" 28 years later - still the same question. Sigh.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      ehhhh my poop doesn't exactly have the personality that i wish it would but i guess ill just have to live with it! poop is poop what can i say!?......I LOVE MY POOP!

    • lyttlehalfpint profile image

      lyttlehalfpint 5 years ago from Canada

      Awesome article is all that can be said about poop article that keeps you reading till the end laughing the whole way.

    • profile image

      fish-oil-expert 5 years ago

      lol... yum! ;)

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Frothy stool!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      This lens is hysterical, as well as very fascinating.

    • profile image

      Socialcard 5 years ago

      Poop...so much POOP lol

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Excellent article! Types of poop had me rolling!

    • profile image

      jaycars 5 years ago

      Remember that very pale, grayish and other light-color stools can be a sign of a liver, pancreas or possibly diabetes-related disease. Info at ADICOL.org